My mum is men­tally un­well

Teenage girl craves nor­mal­ity of life with a ‘nor­mal’ mother.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIV­ING - > FROM PAGE 25

I’M a 16-year-old girl with a strange prob­lem that oth­ers would not un­der­stand. My prob­lem is my mother. You see, she suf­fers from men­tal ill­ness. Ac­cord­ing to my father, it has been like that from when she was young.

When I asked my father why he mar­ried her if he knew she was men­tally ill, he said it was be­cause he loved her and he thought he could help her. And be­sides, they were al­ready en­gaged and it would bring her and her fam­ily dis­hon­our if he were to break off the en­gage­ment. It was a small com­mu­nity that they lived in, and that sort of thing just wasn’t done.

Un­for­tu­nately, now, I see him suf­fer­ing be­cause of my mother’s con­di­tion. She taunts him night and day. The minute he comes back from work, she will be at his side, scold­ing, shout­ing and nag­ging. But not about nor­mal things, but make-be­lieve stuff.

Ac­cord­ing to my father, she suf­fers from psy­choses. She has grand delu­sions about peo­ple try­ing to kill or poi­son her. And she

tells peo­ple “weird things”. Like once, she told my aunt’s friends that my aunt (who is a teacher and a very re­spon­si­ble and good one too) had taken a bunch of her stu­dents for a trip to the sea­side and they all drowned. She never tires and hardly sleeps, yet she can have the en­ergy to go on and on rav­ing.

His rel­a­tives have asked him to take a sec­ond wife to meet his needs as a man, but he has re­fused to do so.

I have asked him why he never got her to seek treat­ment and he said he had tried, but she re­fused to be ad­mit­ted for tests and treat­ment. This was when they first got mar­ried. And she ac­cused him of be­ing the one that was men­tally ill in­stead. He even of­fered to be ad­mit­ted for tests and treat­ment to­gether with her. But she re­fused. Short of forc­ing her to be ad­mit­ted against her will, it can’t be done, ac­cord­ing to my father.

I am an only child so I have no­body to share this bur­den with. My father con­fides in me on most things as well as in a few other rel­a­tives, but no­body can do any­thing. I feel that I’ve grown old be­fore my time be­cause of all these prob­lems. I can’t in­vite my friends over be­cause my mother scares them away. I tried to be­fore, but she told them strange things, and they started to avoid me. Please help me be­cause I’m at my wits’ end.

Des­per­ate

IT is not easy liv­ing with a per­son who has a se­ri­ous men­tal ill­ness. How­ever, it be­comes eas­ier to man­age and deal with the dif­fi­cul­ties if care providers or fam­ily mem­bers have suf­fi­cient sup­port from men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als.

In your mother’s case, the most im­por­tant thing to do is to get her psy­chi­atric help. She needs to be prop­erly as­sessed and given ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment. And, this needs to be done soon.

With symp­toms like your mother’s, the longer they go un­treated the worse they be­come. Hence, the sooner she is taken to see a psy­chi­a­trist the bet­ter it is for her. And, ul­ti­mately, the bet­ter it will be for your father and you.

Your father is right in that tak­ing a sec­ond wife is not go­ing to solve the prob­lem. The main is­sue is your mother’s ill­ness and since there are treat­ments avail­able, the so­lu­tion is to get her to ac­cess them.

Psy­chosis is a col­lec­tion of symp­toms that is part of a big­ger prob­lem. With­out proper as­sess­ment, she will not be able to re­ceive the nec­es­sary treat­ment that will work for her.

The thing is she does not even have to be ad­mit­ted for the as­sess­ment. This can be done with a con­sul­ta­tion with a psy­chi­a­trist. She will have to un­dergo an in­ter­view – not too dif­fer­ent from when you see a doc­tor when you are ill.

The psy­chi­a­trist will have to as­cer­tain symp­toms and sever­ity in or­der to work out the ap­pro­pri­ate med­i­ca­tion and dosage. It may be eas­ier if your father meets with a psy­chi­a­trist first to ex­plain her symp­toms and they can work out ways to bring your mother for a fol­low-up.

Once she gets the treat­ment, she will need some time to ad­just to it and to find the dose that works best for her. Once that is sorted out, though, she will be able to slowly ad­just to “nor­mal” liv­ing with ad­e­quate emo­tional sup­port. She al­ready has a lov­ing fam­ily so that will be the least of her prob­lems.

Slowly, you will be able to do the kinds of things that peo­ple your age do with their moth­ers. But, first, she needs to get med­i­cal at­ten­tion. A search through the Malaysian Psy­chi­atric As­so­ci­a­tion web­site may be able to pro­vide you some re­sources to con­tact for in­for­ma­tion.

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